Running Solo vs Running with a Buddy

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I know you have experienced this before. You wake up feeling super pumped because you’re about to take your running training. You pick your favorite trainers, do some warm-up, and finally: the running starts. That day is THE day!.

You run at an incredible pace! And after finishing your training, the unbearable need that we runners feel after a great training starts invading you… Yes! the feeling to share it with someone.

At that moment is when I ask myself: what is better, running solo or having a running buddy?

Running Solo

Running alone is the most common way to train.

You get the opportunity to connect to your thoughts (even if you are listening to music or audio). Also, it helps you to focus on your pace, form, and breathing.

The best thing of running alone, is that you compete with yourself. You can't compare with anyone else but you.

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We (the Solo Runners) tend to be a little selfish, that is why we prefer to run alone. We like to pick the route, the running time, the distance. Sounds familiar? Maybe you are one of us!

But, what about having a Running Buddy?

Buddy or Running Group

Running with people is actually, extremely fun!.

If you want to enhance your routine, you should run with others or join a running group

Why?

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Because the other runners can give you excellent feedback and share some tips that may transform your performance.

If by any chance, anything happens to you, there is a group of people (or someone) who can support if you get injured. Believe me, that is something that you want to keep in mind!.

Now, let’s breakdown some pros and cons of each of these two options, shall we?

3 PROS OF RUNNING SOLO

1. PERSONAL GOALS

According to Louise Damen a Britain’s Elite Runner with more than 20 years’ experience, running solo helps to focus on your personal goals and metrics such as heart rate, tempo runs, pace, rhythm, distance, cadence and of course your effort.

Knowing exactly your starting point and where you at right now according to your own goals, let’s you have a specific vision of what you need to perfect on your technique.

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I recommend you try different types of training, it’s important to not just go out there and run as much or as far as you can (you may get injured or bored).

For example, it’s basic for you to do some sprints, interval training, tempo runs, among others. Solo running for these runs are perfect!

And a quick tip. Always have a goal in your mind. And during each Solo Run try to achieve that specific goal, measure it and keep track of your improvement.

2. PREVENT INJURIES

Yes! As weird as it may sound, this is true. Running Solo helps you prevent tons of injuries because you are completely conscious of what your body is trying to tell you.

When you do group running, you are not fully concentrated, your mind is not alert if the slightest pain appears, and if it does, you need to pay attention to it right away and stop running.

In the Solo Run, you ensure yourself on not trying to keep up with your other partners, because maybe their pace is faster than yours. This prevents additional stress on your joints, legs, knees!

3. MINDFULNESS 

Running on your own allows you to play “Pause" to your agenda: all that stress from work, money issues, family.

During our day we experience tons of information that distracts us from our needs - and our mind saturates - provoking: anxiety, stress, lack of energy.

Running Solo is one of the best therapies I have in my life. It’s only you, your feet, mind, and breathing.

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So if you mix the advantage of hitting Pause / Mute button when Running Solo, plus the actual benefits your body receives from running - endorphins for example-, you are going to be amazed by how you feel.

According to Mayo Clinic: “ It increases your overall health and your sense of wellbeing” and “it bumps up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters (endorphins)”, it’s often referred as a “Runner’s High” feeling.

And that brings a chain reaction making us feel good, to be honest, who doesn’t love to feel good?.


3 ​PROS OF RUNNING
WITH A GROUP/ HAVING A RUNNING BUDDY

​1. ACCOUNTABILITY  

Having a compromise with a group or buddy to go running, is one of the best things that we as runners can have, Why? It’s pretty simple. You are committed and disciplined when people know about your goals.

If someday you don’t want to go running, thinking about the compromise you made with others - and them looking for you and encouraging to go training - is going to help you a lot.

Your mind can -and will- betray you sometimes (the couch is always a good plan). And having a running buddy can change your mindset. Having responsibility with others WILL take you out of your comfort zone.

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2. LEARNING FROM OTHER RUNNERS

According to Cindra Kamphoff, Ph.D., (a sports psychology consultant at Your Runner's Edge) cited in Runner’s World. Running with other people helps you: “Learn more about how other people train and what they're doing, and it can inspire you to do something different”.

You can try different workouts, routes, distances, pace and improve your technique. Mimicking much more experienced runners is an extraordinary way to advance quicker than by your means.

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I have a quick tip, don’t forget to ask!. Asking is an awesome shortcut. Don’t know what to ask? I will give you the best question: in terms of running, what is the best advice you have received? , believe me, the answer will be years of experience summarized in a couple of minutes.

​3. F​EEDBACK

As I said at the beginning, as runners we love to share our running experience with someone that knows the drill and may help us afterward.

Having a running buddy is incredibly useful in terms of feedback. You may think you are doing things correctly and maybe, you are not. Trust me, another pair of eyes always come handy.

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Another quick tip from a runner’s point of view: before taking the road, share your goal for that specific training, ask your partner his/hers and after the run, give each other the observations you have.

Now, let’s talk about the con’s of Running Solo and Running with a Group.


CONS OF RUNNING SOLO

1. LACK OF CONSISTENCY

We have experienced this in some way, especially during cold climates where we find it difficult to go out the door to run.

When we think about our daily chores, we start questioning if we -really- need to go for a run today? , or: "it doesn't matter if I miss one day of my workout!".

So you better stop overthinking, grab your trainers and go for it!

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​2. LACK OF SAFETY

Running Solo is a beautiful experience. But when we talk about safeness it’s not always the best option.

Running - at night- alone can be a little insecure and running with a group can ensure safety -not just in that case scenario- but if something happens to you (like an injury) and you are running alone, getting help may be difficult.

CONS OF RUNNING
WITH A GROUP/ HAVING A RUNNING BUDDY

1. INJURIES

As runners, we know that injuries will appear on some occasions (Running Solo or Running with others ).

But the fact is, running with other people may provoke more injuries than expected and the reason is pretty simple.

Subconsciously while running with a companion, you start forcing your body and stressing it more than usual. Especially if those runners have a better pace, you will try to keep up with them.

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That may be good of course as I said before because you improve your running goals during time, but sometimes, you need to calm down and realize when your body is aching and STOP.

​2. DISTRACTION

Here is something I want to share. I -sometimes- enjoy having a Running Buddy because it is great training if you talk while running (this may be known as “easy run”).

Why does it work? Because you practice your breathing and you may find your pace really easy.

If you can talk and run at a certain speed, then THAT is your pace. If you increase your speed and then you are not able to have a conversation, slow down a little.

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Practice this little exercise and you will see progress in your running skills.

Nevertheless, I do believe that the most specific downside - I also know it by experience- you can have when running with others, is that you can get distracted easily from your training.

That conversation or “fun time” may distract you from the road, your form and breathing. It can end up being more a social club than a runners group.

So do everything you can to focus on the main objective, without being distracted!


MY ADVICE

As a runner is difficult to lean to just one of these options, both have more positive aspects than negative ones.

I do believe it is a personal decision, and none of them is either correct or incorrect.

Whatever makes you feel happy and gets you closer to your goals, is the best decision.

It is a wise call to do both.

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Doing this will help you a lot to achieve your running potential. My recommendation is to create a schedule where you can go by yourself and go running with others.

But the most important thing is: every time you go for a run, SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES!

Do not put on your trainers and go out to see where the road takes you, always have a plan. That is what real runners do!